There is an ancient Tibetan spiritual and religious discipline called Bon whose belief is that the way we think affects everything we do. They believe that to become emotionally and spiritually rich we need to learn how to think skilfully. They also believe that by understanding and transforming our thoughts it is the key to overcoming one of the biggest obstacles in our lives which is fear.
According to Bon there are 12 types of fear that dominate our lives. We may feel one, several or most of these fears and they can become part of our emotional reality from very early on. Yet we are all capable of living without fear, we just need to be careful with our thoughts and start to examine how we live our lives.
The 12 types of fear are divided into two categories... fears within our minds and fears that come about in the material world that we all experience. It can be difficult to separate one from the other as the two groups often overlap. With self-examination and careful thinking you can recognise your own particular fears and discover the extent to which each of them exists within you.
Fears of the mind
These can bring us confusion, pain and stop us from changing the way we think, feel and act.
1. Fear of being yourself .
All the following 11 fears originate from this one. The experience of truly knowing yourself is scary for some people... it is life-changing. By acknowledging and understanding this fear we heal all the others.
2. Fear of other people .
Most of us have experience being scared of another person at some point in our lives. Let’s face it, a lot of the violence, terrorism and evil in this world is as a result of countries and religions being scared of other countries and religions! When we are no longer afraid of others we gain love of ourselves and a love of all living creatures.
3. Fear of power & control .
All power and control which is not motivated by the best of intentions will always be artificial and this will be a burden to those who use it. Even power and control over yourself will hold you back if you don’t share it with others through lack of kindness and generosity.
4. Fear of love .
A lot of people are scared of falling in love, especially if they have had a previous bad experience. There are also people who long to be in love, yet are worried that they will be rejected once the other person discovers their shortcomings. It’s when you find the courage to love fully that you are participating in life completely.
5. Fear of loneliness.
If you are afraid of being on your own it means you have not yet discovered the joy of your own company. To be happy and content around other people you need to be happy and content with yourself first.
6. Fear of fear itself.
For some people their greatest fear is fear itself ! To avoid it they become isolated and lonely and hold back from taking part in life. The Tibetan Bon tradition states this fear of fear is not prompted by any outside factor even if you feel it is.
7. Fear of death & dying.
Life is fragile and we all know that nothing lives forever. What we need to change however is our perception that death is a bad thing.
Fears of the material world .
These are the fears that stop us from living successfully and harmoniously in our daily lives.
8. Fear of success & failure.
Some people are scared of success because not only have their dreams come true but they now have to take responsibility for their success. It is exactly the same for failure...when we fail we have to accept and take responsibility for the loss of our dreams. Some people never allow themselves to succeed or fail so great is their fear of both. The only way to overcome this fear is to try and understand why you need and deserve either your success or your failure. From this understanding comes serenity which is far more valuable than either success or failure.
9. Fear of poverty & wealth .
The desire to have a lot of money comes from feeling unsafe in the world, while the fear of poverty comes from feeling in constant danger. Both situations can create anger, for they come from the desire to control the material world. However, it is virtually impossible to change the material world when you are in a state of fear. To heal either fear it is important to understand what you have in the world and why and to learn how to use it skilfully. Poverty can be overcome but if your fear of poverty is driving you to make money, it will ultimately cause harm to your personality.
10. Fear of the future & what it will bring.
Most of us have moments when we are afraid of what the future may bring. This comes from dissatisfaction and the inability to be content with what we have emotionally and spiritually. We have this fear when we are not fully aware of the value of life that we have now. We need to take time to consider our current life or situation and accept it with all the good and bad aspects. The emotional and spiritual value in our present life is the catalyst for our connection to serenity and once we have this connection the future is nothing to be afraid of.
11. Fear of achievement & self esteem .
This fear comes about when we come to believe that achievement and a sense of self esteem are the same thing. People believe that if they achieve more they will raise their self-esteem but at the same time they fear achievement feeling they can’t manage it or cope with it because their self esteem is low. The trick is not to get caught up in this vicious circle. Self esteem is the benefit that you or others will gain from this achievement.
12. Fear of war & illness.
Throughout history there has always been war, but today the fear of war is more prevalent than it has ever been. This is mainly because TV, radio, newspapers etc. are able to bring war into our homes. Years ago this was not the case.
Notes from Holistic Therapies Spain ; The fear of illness is also on the increase as again we are made aware of the many threats of disease that exist. It's true that in the past people lived shorter lives, but they had fewer fears of illness or war because they were not forced to confront them on a daily basis via the media.
Tomorrow I'll tell you a few ways to help overcome some of these fears. But for now, I say that we should have a fresh cup of coffee, OK?